The Social Security (Up-rating) (Miscellaneous Amendments) (Scotland) Regulations 2023: scrutiny report

The Scottish Commission on Social Security's scrutiny report on the Social Security (Up-rating) (Miscellaneous Amendments) (Scotland) Regulations 2023

Annex A: Overview – powers and constraints

Areas where Scottish Government has powers to exercise discretion include:

  • What index/ indices to use as the measure of inflation.
  • Not to up-rate any forms of assistance unless “in their opinion” it is “materially below its inflation-adjusted figure” (section 78(1)). In our 2020 report we asked the Scottish Government how it would define ‘materially below’, at which point we were told that policy was still under development.
  • Whether ‘up-rating’ is taken to mean solely maintaining the value of benefits or whether it can also mean increasing their value ‘in exceptional circumstances’.
  • What they regard as ‘exceptional circumstances’ that would justify taking a different approach to the one set out.
  • Whether only to report annually on inflation-adjusted figures for assistance covered in Part 2 Chapter 2 of the Act, or to maintain or increase their value.
  • Whether to up-rate from April or earlier in the year.

Constraints on the exercise of discretion include:

  • Whether the form of assistance if subject to an agency agreement with DWP who continue to administer it for the time being.
  • The need to find funds from elsewhere, where funding for additional action is not included in the UK Government block grant.
  • Which measures of inflation have the status of national statistics.
  • DWP policy changes.
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